Back to Money! Well did you think about what you want your college children to learn about money? I have a great idea!! How about the skill of simple budgeting? It doesn't matter whether their monthly source of money is coming from you, from what they managed to save over the summer, or a regular job they are going to have while on campus or a combination of all three. Whatever the source(s), keeping a monthly budget is an essential skill that promotes life time financial success, plus a few other bonus benefits.
Making a budget and sticking to that budget grows discipline. DISCIPLINE grows SUCCESS in all areas of life ( education, faithful relationships, health and fitness, and personal organization, just to name a few). Discipline shouldn't be considered a rude, boring, or uncomfortable word or concept, either. It's funny how many people unconsciously shiver or shrink away a bit whenever this particular word is brought forward. Why is that? People seem to envision crowded walls and chains of labor whenever 'discipline' is mentioned. Instead, however, I propose that it is a word of FREEDOM and JOY because with it brings a great peace of mind. You're at peace because you're not experiencing extreme confusion and uncertainty in your life on a daily basis. All life has some confusion, some uncertainty, but why exacerbate the possibilities? So MONEY, being one of those factors which can either enhance or reduce many areas of life (social, basic living, transportation, etc), should certainly be one of the top area that anyone can gain more discipline in, therefore the BUDGET.
College is a great time to start this seriously because this is where it can be the SIMPLEST for there are fewer categories upon which to focus. A typical college student living in a dorm would probably have the following categories: phone bill, books, basic school supplies, transportation, cleaning supplies, entertainment, clothing, and gifts. If the student lived at home, ok, delete the cleaning supplies, BUT if they decide to move into a house or apartment in their junior + years, then of course more categories are required. So you see, life can get more complicated sooner than you think, therefore the GREAT advantage to starting out in the beginning when life is 'simple' and 'easy'.
As parents we can't dictate the use of a budget, but we can certainly advise the practice, send an email with suggested categories and encourage from that point. Also, we can stop (if we have the tendency) being the endless money tree for our children and not leap into giving the moment there is something our college child WANTS that they can't or do not care to pay for. For our kids to 'ADULT', we have to let the process play out. It's like when they were babies learning to walk. We had to let them fall sometimes. They fell, they survived and they got strong.